Do you want a marriage that’s full of love, harmony, and peace? How about a passionate and sexy marriage? What if you could have more fun with your husband and more effectively work through conflict? You can learn the marriage success secrets of this wise 91 year old.
Marriage is hard work. It needs patience, it needs humility, it needs perseverance, it needs unconditional love, but the work is worth the reward! Just like a rose without water, sunlight, and rich, soft soil can’t flourish, your marriage won’t flourish without these things. Today you’re going to hear from a woman who has a lifetime of experience in this area. She was married for 65 years to one man, remaining faithful to him to his last breath, raised 7 wonderful children who now have families of their own, and is a newly wed for the second time at the age of 91. I deeply admire and respect this woman. She is a woman of great character, an encourager, always smiling and full of love — she’s my grandma — Agnes Dyck. Prepare to hear the marriage success secrets of this 91 year old woman.
A Brief Introduction
Agnes Dyck was born in June of 1926 to a German christian family of 9. She was raised on a farm in southern Manitoba where she developed a hard work ethic, learned the love of family, and grew a deep faith which tied it all together. As a young woman Agnes became a school teacher and was married to Abe Dyck at the age of 22, and after 65 years of marriage she is a wealth of knowledge and good sense.
The Perfect Fit
To say my grandparents had a great marriage is an understatement. They were a perfect fit. When asked about what it was like being newly-weds Grandma Agnes said, “Grandpa and I had so much in common because I got to know Grandpa when he was 6 and I was 7, because he was the step-son of my oldest sister.”
My Grandpa Abe’s dad was married and had four children when his first wife passed away. He then married my Grandma’s oldest sister, technically making Agnes the “auntie” of Abe, though she was only one year older than him. Because of the family relation, they grew up visiting eachother often and developed a friendship from young on.
Recalling their childhood, Grandma Agnes smiled as she said, “I think I loved Grandpa all my life. I think the reason I had an attraction for Grandpa was because I had no brothers my age and Grandpa was about my age, and I remember we were quite young and we were sitting on a bridge and all of a sudden he grabbed my hand.” then she smiled and said, “Your Grandpa was always something of a romantic.”
She carried on to say, “I didn’t have a lot of things to overcome as far as culture was concerned, or religion, or style of worship. We had all that in common early on. We went to the same school, and highschool for two years. So I didn’t have a lot of new things to learn that most young couples have to learn from eachother. I guess I’ve avoided a lot of stress that a lot of other young women might have.” One hurdle already overcome, my grandparents had a strong base of friendship, one of the marriage success secrets that held them together.
A Rough Start
Not all was rosy though. After only 8 months of marriage, when Grandma was very pregnant, my Grandpa Abe became sick with tuberculosis and had to stay in hospital for 13 months! How can a marriage stay strong in the midst of such stress and separation? Well, Grandma would say that the success of their marriage was in the bond of friendship they had built growing up together. She also made great efforts and sacrifices to visit Grandpa every weekend, only missing one in the entire 13 months.
While Grandpa was sick Agnes moved back into her parents’ house and after recovering from giving birth to her first baby she got a teaching job at a local one room school. She remembers her first anniversary. It was a Sunday and Grandma would go to the highway to catch the Grey Hound bus going to the city, but little did she know that the bus didn’t run on Sunday! After waiting, wondering, and praying, a car slows down and a man asks her if she’s waiting for someone. “I’m waiting for the bus.” She replies, to which the man responds that the bus doesn’t run on Sunday. So what does she do?
The man kindly offers to drive her to the city, since he was going too. “So I hitchhiked on our first anniversary with a stranger!” She exclaims, laughing at the memory.
Though they spent 13 months separated they remained faithful to eachother. It was genuine friendship and simply being committed to eachother that kept them together. Grandma also noted that to keep physical contact and loving touch to affirm her love was really important during that time.
Then Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage
Having children changes the dynamics of a marriage to be sure, but my Grandma never let that come between her and her husband. For their family, “Our children went to bed at the same time every night. Our life was simple, structured.” They had a stable home, and keeping regular structure helped the children to not be confused, which undoubtedly contributed to peace in the home and peace in the marriage. Not to mention when the kids go to sleep then mom and dad can have time together.
In the midst of the busyness of children your love can always be shown with a touch, even as you walk by. Grandma noted, “I really believe in touching. Our skin feels touch, and we have skin all over our bodies; we can feel everywhere! It was made for touching.” An intentional touch will always communicate love and is an important way to show love and committment to your husband, especially in those busy times when there isn’t much time to spend together.
Love the Working Man
Later in their marriage, my Grandpa Abe was a business man in upper management and carried many responsibilities that could have weighed on his mind on, and off, hours. To support a working husband Grandma commented, “It’s important that a wife knows what her husband is doing and what keeps him busy. Know why he’s busy. If he’s busy for a good reason then she better not complain, because he’s putting food on the table. If she has any doubt that maybe he’s busy because he doesn’t want to come home, just know why he’s busy.”
Ladies, we have a HUGE impact on our husband’s home experience, especially as a stay at home wife. We have the power to create a place of stress, or a haven of rest. “If guys have nothing to come home to, they just come home to a stressed wife, naughty kids, and a messy home, who wants to come home to that? Make him want to come home. Home is a haven, a place where he can relax and be himself. Build eachother up.” Always be on the lookout to how you can show love to your husband, to encourage him and build him up.
If your husband works a taxing job and maybe even works overtime be open in communicating to him how you feel. Not in an attacking way, but in a humble way, revealing your heart to him. You have the power to build him up or tear him down, so use your words to build up. Try these sweet words from my Grandm: “Encourage him in his job and tell him that you understand he has a lot of work to do, and mention that you really miss him and appreciate when he comes home and you can spend special time with him.” You will always touch your man’s heart when you communicate how important he is to you!
From Arguments to Agreements
Now how did they overcome differences? It’s simpler than you think. “We talked about it, we just worked it out! Through prayer and open, honest discussion. Lay it on the table, this is how I feel, this is what’s happening, this is why I feel that way.” You can’t come to an understanding without first seeking to understand. Ask how your spouse felt and listen without taking offense, one of the very important marriage success secrets.
The next step is this: “Ask the question, say, ‘I feel this way, can you help me to change my attitude? Help me understand.’ Put it back to your mate, because often your mate feels threatended when you’re upset. So ask the question: can you help me understand? And don’t wait until the next day! Let yourself cool down, but don’t leave the problem until tomorrow.”
Though they were a “perfect fit” and had many things in common from growing up together, there are always disagreements. That’s why one of their marriage success secrets was they never stuffed their frustrations or refused to talk about it. Or at least not for long. It can be hard to open up, but vulnerability is the only way to come to a true understanding of your spouse. To true harmony and intimacy. And sometimes when you have frustrations, you may simply need to lighten up a little! “Cultivate a sense of homour! Don’t take life too seriously.”
And I know things can get really tough in marriage, but this is the most important time to hold on and work it through. As Grandma said, “What God has put together, let no man put asunder! I believe that so strongly. If you were meant to be together in the first place, then come hell or high water you stick together!” When you can work through a struggle in your marriage, though it comes with tears and pain, you will be more in love and closer than ever at the end of it.
Keeping the Sparkle in Your Marriage
Life goes on and sometimes you wish for more excitement in your marriage. It takes effort to keep the sparkle, but maybe not as much as you think! I found another one of my grandma’s marriage success secrets when I asked the question, “What was something you and Grandpa did to spend time together and connect? What did you do to make him feel special? To feel loved?” and Grandma’s response was priceless!
She said, “It’s very helpful when your husband, just for no reason at all, brings home a flower sometimes. For no reason at all! ‘Just because I love you.’ And you can do the same for him! Just for no reason at all you put a candle on the table, and when he asks, ‘Why did you put a candle on the table?’ you can say, ‘Well honey, just because I love you and I wanted to do something a little special.’“
Grandma always has a balance of good sense to her advice.“Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference because it shows you’ve been thinking of them. Do a little something special, but not very often, or they might start taking it for granted.” A love note in the lunchkit, his favourite candy bar tucked in his briefcase, or an extra dressed up wife waiting for him when he comes in the door from work. All these things add a little more sparkle to your marriage, and it’s those little sparkles that really light up the marriage!
Newly-Wed at 91
After 65 years of marriage, 63 years spent sleeping in the same bed, my Grandpa passed away. Yet that’s not the end of the story. Grandma Agnes at the age of 91 has been remarried for almost three years now to John Pankratz, and is enjoying the companionship of this new relationship. However John and Agnes have known eachother for many years, John being a brother-in-law to my grandma.
Grandma Agnes and John’s spouses were brother and sister (Abe and Helen) and the two couples would visit together in their seniors home before Abe and Helen (siblings) passed away, both having alzheimers. After my grandpa passed away John and Agnes continued visiting and going out for coffee, always in a group of course. Grandma claims that she had not seen it coming that John would propose. “So one day he says to me,” Grandma recalls, “‘Why am I sitting alone in my room and you are sitting alone in your room? Why don’t we sit together?’ I said well, why not?” She smiled and chuckled at the memory.
Even in her second marriage, Grandma had history with the man and came from a similar background and faith. She says she had it easy. “So you see, a second marriage for me is different that many other second marriages because often when a woman becomes a widow or divorced, her second mate doesn’t necessarily come from the same background. She’s gone on a trip, trying to get away from it all, and meets someone and they connect, then they have their baggage and whatnot.”
Of course, she says, they have their own baggage too, but not like some other couples. And again, you have to make an effort. Grandma sweetly told me about how John is a real deep thinker, a studier, and spoke so admirably about him, praising him to me when he wasn’t even around! Now that is a woman of honour. Building up her husband and enriching her marriage by edifying him and speaking positively about him to me.
The Struggles of Modern Marriage
As a woman born in the 1920s, my Grandma Agnes has seen society change a lot and it has definitely affected marriage. She says, “A big challenge was when this whole feminist movement started. That was the beginning of trouble. When women want to be on the same level emotionally, spiritually, educationally, and in every sense as men, that’s not how God created them. God created the man to be the head of the home, ‘I will create a help meet for him,’ not the other way around.”
I know you’re probably cringing right now and think that’s just so old fashioned, but wait! You haven’t head the whole story yet. “This is the principle of the Bible, ‘God created male and female,’ but he created female to be a help to the male. And you know what, females are much stronger than the males! I see it all the time. There are 10 widows to one widower. Why? Men can’t live alone, they have to get married. Really! In that sense, women are much stronger. They are the helpers!“
It’s really hard to live a life when you’re striving and pushing yourself to superior to your husband, or to men, or to anyone for that matter. Men and women were created to perfectly balance and complete one another, especially in marriage. Sure, my husband is a hard, focused worker who provides for me physically and emotionally, but if I didn’t make food for him he’d probably not eat all day! So too your husband deeply desires and needs a woman who is strong to help him, encourage him, love him with a passion, because without you he can’t be the best man he was meant to be.
As we closed the interview I asked my grandma, from all her years of marriage experience, what her three most important marriage sucess secrets that would help another young wife build a lasting marriage. What she said was this:
- If you’re a Christian, make time with God a priority. She said, “My number one textbook is the Bible.” Without being connected to the Author of Love, how can you love?
- Have open communication at all times. Never let hurts or frustrations hide in the dark where they ferster and grow into worse problems. Bring them to the light.
- Forgive and Forget. Don’t harbor past grudges or build on them. Learn from past mistakes and then forget them.
There you have it! The marriage success secrets of a 91 year old woman.
Whether you’ve been married two months, 5 years, or 25 years, these tips and insights could change your marriage and set you up for an even closer, more intimate, more harmonious, and more exciting relationship with your husband.
Hold them close and keep on loving that man of yours!
In the arithmatic of love, one plus one equals everything and two minus one equals nothing.
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